Development Synergy Urged among Anna Maria Cities


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, August 29th, 2015 – Synergized development among the three cities of Anna Maria Island, in general, and building a third bridge linking it to the mainland, in particular, are among the highlights of an Urban Land Institute (ULI) study presented to local officials and residents this August 2015.

During the presentation, the panel from the nonprofit ULI was emphatic in urging a joint effort in the three cities in the seven-mile long island noted not only for its tourist destinations but also enticing listings among Sarasota homes for sale. The representatives of the ULI, an advocate for high standards of land use planning and development, suggested that the three cities—Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach—should discuss their shared objectives and needs in order to come up with collaborative efforts that generate the desired positive results.

Luring new residents

Development Synergy Urged among Anna Maria Cities

The ULI study, its proposals and guideposts may be seen at work as early as in October 2015 in a meeting of a private citizens’ group focused on attracting new residents to the island. This group is led by Holmes Beach Commission Vice-chairwoman Jean Peelen, with Bradenton Beach Commissioner Janie Robertson and Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carte among the members.

According to the ULI study, there has been a substantial decline in the permanent residents in the island. A 21.2% drop in its total population was noted between year 2000 and 2010, a trend mainly attributed to the numerous conversions of private residences to short-term rentals.

Encouraging housing for people working but not actually residing in Anna Maria Island is one potential development which could possibly arise from the ULI study. More of the island’s workforce living within Anna Maria should also help alleviate the growing traffic problem in its three cities.

New span to mainland

As a long-term solution to traffic congestion, the ULI suggested the construction of a third bridge from the mainland at 53rd Avenue, linked either to the bay side of Coquina Beach or, alternatively, to the northern tip of Longboat Key. This span could then absorb much of the Cortez Beach traffic and all traffic coming to and from Longboat Key.

Additionally, the study likewise saw the need to either rehabilitate or replace the two-lane Cortez drawbridge linking Bradenton Beach to the mainland. This span is the primary access not only to Bradenton Beach but also to Coquina Beach and to the northern end of Longboat Key. It is likewise critical for the forthcoming 3,000-acre Lake Flores development in southwest Bradenton, a fertile resource for Sarasota homes for sale looming on the horizon.

Solutions to traffic

To help reduce traffic volume and parking problems, especially during in-tourist season and holidays, the ULI study suggested that residents and visitors be encouraged to walk, bike or use various public transport facilities currently in place in the island. Among these facilities are the tip-based Island Beach Monkeys offering rides to and from Bradenton, Cortez, and Longboat Key, as well as St. Armands Circle, downtown Sarasota and Siesta Key. Another is the fare-free Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) with routes connecting Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach to mainland destinations including Lakewood Ranch.